Rob Ordahl (1954-2016)

Rob Ordahl

Rob Ordahl

Rob Ordahl, co-founder of the Post-Void Radio Theater passed away unexpectedly; performed superhero duty on the Little City in Space with vocals (counting down the Universal Top 12; introductory greeting on NPR pilot show) and his original ads for Anger Gear Unanimous; Uncle Beano’s Pants on Fire. His radio stints included KFAI’s Late Nite Magic, Random Access, The Wilbur Drive Effect; commercial D.J. in Duluth, MN and Waco, TX; programmed experimental net station Weird Energy. He worked behind the scenes in TV, on camera for the special, A Television Relationship, with Stu Mathews.

He created original music on his own, listen to robO: Screen Test Study Music featuring highlights from a sonic sampler with several robOnus tracks posthumously discovered.skm_284e16101815590_0001

Stu Mathews, Post-Void Radio Theater

In 1974, I got a job at Research, Incorporated doing electronic assembly. Their biggest client was NASA. Research built the first prototype ovens for firing the thermal displacement tiles for the space shuttles. The assembly group I joined consisted of Rob Ordahl, christened “Buffalo Bob” by our supervisor Larry. Rob’s hair was long and wavy, like the images of historical character Buffalo Bill. Larry and I started calling him “The Buffalo.” Rob knew of me when he was a sophomore at Bloomington MN Lincoln High School and I was a senior…there was less than a year difference in our ages, although we graduated two years apart. I was amazed to find someone I’d never met, who already knew about me. He said he looked up to me in high school for one particular incident that he was witness to. Rob reminded me there was one time back at school when I was on my way from one class to another and was confronted by a group of crew-cut jocks. I chose to simply walk right past them, and one of them grabbed my back pack, and threw me to the floor, calling me “hair boy.” My response is what surprised Rob. I picked myself up, and called down the hallway after them, “You better get used to me, ’cause I’m not going anywhere.” I felt I’d found a kindred spirit in Rob, and I think he thought so, too.

Peter Stenshoel, Post-Void Radio Theater

Rob was introduced to me as The Buffalo.  My whole span of time meeting first Stu and his band, the Infinity Art Unit (Lane Ellwanger and Mark Maistrovich at that time), then Damon (Mathews), and then Rob, had me so excited.  I felt that I was meeting a string of bona fide geniuses, and Rob was no exception.  I remember one time meeting him where he was living and he held a crystal in his hand.  He said, “I like to look into this and make up stories.”  I got the impression he was letting me know he had visions when skrying crystals, but with Rob you could never be sure.

Well before the Post-Void Radio Theater ever made its radio debut, Rob and the other members collaborated on many pages of  humorous material. Peter elaborates:

His contributions to our fried shoe style script writing, where Jeff (Pike), Stu, Rob, and I would hand off a script after finishing a few lines and pick another off the pile, were brilliant, but I think all of us were on a roll.  We would read them out loud afterwards, stage directions and all, and laugh our asses off.  These scripts proved well nigh impossible to make radio from, but that’s another story.  They stand on their own and ought to be published in book form.bringslippers110

bringslippers111bringslippers112One more memory:  Visiting Rob opening his Late-Nite Magic Show on KFAI, he was playing HPSCHD, the John Cage, et. al., LP of really avant-garde and harsh sounds.  I said, “Are you sure you want to start with that?”  He smiled, and said, “I’m just getting rid of the listeners who aren’t serious.  I’m clearing the field.” He had such a fascinating style in the studio, he could be so subtle. He could whip things up and just watching him do a show on his own I would watch in awe the way he could almost be a one-man circus.

Peter, Rob (KFAI)

Peter, Rob (KFAI)

Stu Mathews, Post-Void Radio Theater
The first day of broadcasting at KFAI, Rob was talking on the air, and I was going around outside with my portable cassette recorder to interview people who attended the grand opening party at the church.  Then, I’d go back up to the studio and play the cassette interviews over the air.  It was a lot of fun. When Rob left Minneapolis to live in Texas for a while he gifted his radio air shift at KFAI to the Post-Void Radio Theater, and that’s how the Little City in Space radio series was born.
Blanche Fubar, KFAI D.J.

Yes, Rob and I did some radio together. The most memorable was a Saturday overnight stint. Rob had been DJing at a wedding and was in a three-piece suit, a rare sartorial choice in the Walker Church belfry, especially in high summer. At one point, we had an actual bat in the actual belfry. Rob took off his vest and caught the bat in the vest, and we proceeded to interview the bat on the air. I think that’s one of my favorite-ever KFAI stories.

The Roaming Buffalo

The Roaming Buffalo

 

Jeff Pike, Post-Void Radio Theater

He wanted to move to Olympia, and I was certainly open to it if he were self-sustaining, but I wasn’t sure he could be and was leery of a difficult living situation. KAOS here in Olympia was one of the stations that ran the LCS season you guys put together in the late ’80s or so. I had an idea it would be fun to get a show there — it wouldn’t be hard, though it would probably start as weird night hours and might stay there — and do it with him and at least one other radio-theater type of talent I know in the area. Probably a pipe dream, but a nice one, though alas now it will never happen. He had more talent than I suspect the world will ever know—as a DJ, and as a theater maven at multiple levels, from handling light and sound for stage productions to performing and producing radio theater.

Stu Mathews, Post-Void Radio Theater
I always thought (as humans always do) that Rob and I would meet, again, sometime. Now that door is closed. We were best friends, off and on, for nearly 20 years.
Leslie Eaton, Foolish Mortal
He was a good friend, who worked with me on a music project. While it didn’t get finished, we stayed friends, and he opened my mind to different media in a lot of ways. He was in a great state of mind before he unexpectedly died.  He was making plans for a move. Well, he made a big one and I’m sure to a good place. Hope to see him later. He sent a lot of DVDs that will bring back memories when I watch them. I’m glad I had the chance to know him.

Peter: Rob really loved the movie, “Stay.”  I had been interviewed along with others about my NDE for inclusion as a special feature.  Rob saw me “Petey-Pie” I think he called me and told me it was his favorite movie.  I hope that my interview helped him on his journey from this popsicle stand called Earth.skm_284e16100915170_0001

A thoughtful essay on Rob Ordahl, death and Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal by the Post-Void’s Jeff Pike can be read at https://pkcantexplain.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-seventh-seal-1957.html

From Little City in Space, listen to an imaginative sound skit featuring Rob with Stu Mathews called Little Guy and his Robot Driver: Train Your RobotLanternRobot_004

Rob’s experimental site, Weird Energy, was a net radio station with a varied blend of other people’s music. Listen to Robomix 23 or Robomix 32skm_284e16101815080_0001

Above, 2 images created by robO

More early Post-Void Radio Theater scripts (Rob with Peter, Stu, Jeff)…aswezero106106

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Sound Inspirations: From Freberg to Firesignals

Creative inspiration for some members of LCS’ Post-Void Radio Theater originated listening to record albums by The Firesign Theatre and Stan Freberg. The recent passing of FT’s Phil Austin, and the death of Stan Freberg (wrote & starred in network radio’s last great comedy series–replacing Jack Benny who left radio for TV) prompted discussion between Post-Void participants investigating the why of radio as means of expressing themselves. What were the listening influences of Peter Stenshoel, Damon Mathews, Jeff Pike, Stu Mathews & Jerry?

Peter: Old time radio was already in my blood. Along with Freberg. 50974-fullFirst album heard was Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, the year it was released! (1961) And Bob & Ray.

00314926Damon: Bob & Ray forever! Bob & Ray were, still are, and probably always will be my shining stars. I took an interest in old time radio so far back you had to get episodes on LP records. But cassettes arrived about two minutes later & I was off & running after that.

Jerry: No Stan Freberg…no Bob & Ray…no Jerry! They blew my mind discovering them. (We sadly note the recent passing of Bob Elliot, of Bob & Ray)

Peter, Damon, Jerry

Peter, Damon, Jerry

Jerry: My buddy Mark Masyga and I started taping OTR on cassette around 1972 when re-runs were programmed on commercial radio: Lacrosse, Wisconsin AM radio ritually re-broadcast The Shadow, Green Hornet, Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee & Molly. Then-current CBS Radio Mystery Theater was text book “here’s how it’s done” and I kept a log of each episode title for quite a while. Now you can listen to them at archive.org.

Peter: Miriam and I discovered CBS Radio Mystery Theater on Far East Network the 3 months living in Tokyo. A really fun ritual!

Stu: I think I was just seven, maybe eight years old (’61-‘62) when my grandmother Jewell Vowel thrilled me by sending me a “miniature” transistor radio for my birthday. I found out that I could put the radio under my pillow, and then, laying my head with my ear directly over the speaker, I could keep it low enough. That’s when I had my most fascinating listening sessions…listening to places like Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago. It’s where I first heard the Motown sound and the girl groups that were popular, including the first time I heard The Supremes.  To me, it didn’t seem like these sounds were coming from a specific place.  The experience seemed so mysterious to me that I felt these songs and the announcers were just “out there,” like voices from outer space (imagine that).

Jerry: Also KAAY-Little Rock. Freberg’s 1957 network radio show re-played on WCCO-FM, I strung a copper wire across the kitchen ceiling & on good nights in Winona listened intently.

Damon: Stringing wire in the kitchen to get WCCO is such beautiful music to my ears! I spent a good chunk of childhood fascinated with both the content and technology of radio.

Peter: I got a crystal radio set for my birthday when I was ten. That was just awesome. Later, the famous Jim Gilbert was my then not-famous science teacher who started a ham radio club with a few of us radio heads. Again, superb fun and thrills. My Morse code got good enough so I had my own “rig” in my room and I was WNOBJX.

Damon: That’s great that you got to be a ham in the days when it was really unique to connect to other countries. I had a Heathkit receiver that I built when I was about 9.

Peter: I also “built” a Heathkit receiver (my Dad did most of the soldering!) which was part of my rig. Bought a used transmitter…so cool! My Heathkit receiver allowed me to hear shortwave radio. Voice of America played Frank Zappa’s Concerto for John Luc Ponty.

Jerry: Looking for the elusive & interesting radio signals in the old days…like spelunking in a dark cave! The heart would race when happening upon something interesting!

Peter Bergman (d2012), Phil Proctor, Phil Austin (d2015), David Ossman

Peter Bergman (d2012), Phil Proctor, Phil Austin (d2015), David Ossman

Stu: Now that Peter Bergman & Phil Austin have passed away, I feel compelled to emphasize that, although I consider the Post-Void Radio Theater to be our own, there’s no use in denying how brave this foursome was to commit to their muses and boldly go where no comedic group had gone before, and not give a damn whether people approved or not. For me, they were The Beatles of a new kind of unfettered creativity that could be called as much Performance Art as it is Comedy. It is so vivid to me, my memory of the evening that Peter & David Stenshoel invited me to listen to a double-vinyl album they had acquired, called Dear Friends. We lounged around in their parents’ bedroom listening to four full album sides of four guys just doing whatever the hell they wanted to do, on the radio! I would never have been inspired to actually try to be funny – live – on the radio if I hadn’t heard Dear Friends, the only Firesign vinyl album that is just them goofing around on the airwaves. It was magic. It was more than magic. It changed my whole life paradigm. And I haven’t been the same since.

Jerry: I was living in Waverly, Iowa working at a radio station, off-hours at home could pick up Rochester, Minnesota late night FM playing whole sides of rock music albums without interruption, they played FT’s Nick Danger from their second LP.

Peter: I was speaking with a fellow at NPR West & he pointed out FT pre-dated Monty Python. FT credited The Goon Show as inspirations. $_35Maybe 1966 first heard The Goon Show and so I was well-primed when my brother David woke me up to hear the very surrealistic second side of FT’s Waiting for the Electrician. You didn’t have to be literate to enjoy it although you could understand more references if you were. FT’s David Ossman really admired the European avant-garde of the ’20s. And the ’50s. Ionesco, Beckett.

Jeff: Being absurd on the radio is so much more effective than almost any other medium. Radio triggers the imagination so easily. They pitched it at this low-brow level with TV, mystery novel references.

Peter: We could all instantly understand something of what they were doing, and yet there was always a mystery to it too. That absurdism translates beautifully in that medium.

Jeff: Funny, without being heavy-handed, that’s what Firesign Theatre really did. Obviously we were influenced by them. They were so unique, and they mapped out these huge terrains. I’ve gone back and bought all their albums.

Stu: If The Firesign Theatre had not happened, The Post-Void Radio Theater–and Little City in Space Show–would not have happened.

 

Little City in Space: Peter, Paul and Miriam

Late night radio fun with longtime friends Peter Stenshoel, Paul Zaiser and Miriam Stonehill on the Little City in Space from aircheck of July 5, 1989 taped by listener Brian Anderson. Features include News from Nowhere, Sports, Paul Bunny commentary, Joblines; ads for Smilin’ Simon’s Attitude Adjustment Capsules, Post-Modern Flakes, Swekkmakk’s Bleeper Pad Lounge. Records by Ted Heath, Yashiro Aki, The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils. With the talents of Bob Zander, Mark Masyga. Listen: https://archive.org/details/LittleCityInSpace070589PPM

From July 19, 1989 excerpts of a solo-hosted LCS show by Peter, with guest appearances by Jack Swekkmakk, Halvor Johansen, Paul Bunny; sponsored by Smitherweenies and Gnarly School of Ash and Sack Cloth. Also featuring the talents of Mark Masyga. Listen at https://archive.org/details/LittleCityInSpaceJuly19th1989Internet Archive logo

Peter, Stu, Miriam & Paul

Peter, Stu, Miriam & Paul

Best of Little City in Space

cf0ad4bc9f3e209f10979581cf8fefd8The Post-Void Radio Theater brings outer space living down to Earth via their KFAI series, Little City in Space. Here are more highlights from the late 1980s with hosts Peter Stenshoel, Stu Mathews and Jerry.

News from Nowhere rounds up current events, along with Sports and the Paul Bunny commentary, featuring ads for Paul Molitor Dish Washing Liquid, and for an enigmatic contraption called The MJ-12. Music by Myron Floren, The Crops, Bat Lenny, The Harmonicats.

Listen: https://archive.org/details/BestOfLCS1989Internet Archive logo

Thanks to the voices of Joan Timmis, Chuck Isle and Dan (Dr. Science) Coffey.

 

 

Little City in Space Syndicated Series Episode 4

img004.4The solar system premier of a new work by extraterrestrial composer Glagnu Whick highlights Episode 4 of Little City in Space‘s syndicated series, featured the last Sunday each month on KFAI‘s Sound Affects. Listen  February 23, 2014 (Sunday) 9:30 p.m. (CST).

#4 includes a visit from Bishopess Shepherdess Iris; Paul Bunny; commercials for The Invisible College; and Lefsa Center.

Thanks to Jerry Stearns for sharing LCS on Sound Affects: A Radio Playground. Jerry plays the best of radio theater, old and new, each Sunday evening. Hear shows for two weeks in archive.

Little City in Space Syndicated Series

img002The KFAI radio program called Sound Affects, a showcase of contemporary theater of the mind, begins re-broadcasting the Little City in Space syndicated series on November 24, 2013. Subsequent episodes of LCS air on the final Sundays of each month. (9:30 p.m. CST; listen live at KFAI.org). If you don’t catch the broadcast, it can still be heard in KFAI archives for two weeks. Just follow this link.

The Post Void Radio Theater inhabited the St. Paul studios of Film in the Cities for eight production-intensive months starting May 1989.  With access to state-of-the-art recording equipment, Stu Mathews, Jerry Modjeski, Peter Stenshoel (shown above) created new hour long Little City in Space shows for national syndication.

Sound Affects, hosted by Jerry Stearns, is heard on KFAI every Sunday evening. The Little City in Space 13-episode series will be heard on the last Sundays of each month through November 2014.Sound Affects logo

More Gordon Mathews LCS Art

Thanks to the archives of Stuart Mathews, here’s more artwork created by his father Gordon Mathews (1930-2008) for The Post Void Radio Theater’s Little City in Space.LCS horiz logo bwBorn in Arkansas City, Kansas, Gordon became a commercial artist at the Kansas City Art Institute. During his stint in the US Air Force, he became their top illustrator. In 1955 he moved his family to Minneapolis, and worked on advertising campaigns for clients such as Pillsbury, General Mills, Northrup King, and Old Home Dairy. Here’s Gordon’s draft Little City in Space logo.Alt Logo Concept - pencil

Dreams & UFOs

Visions of UFOs in dreams voiced by the dreamers: Miriam Stonehill; Stuart Mathews; Brian Anderson; Peter Stenshoel; Bob Zander; news bulletins from Little City in Space with Jeff Pike & Damon Mathews on a special titled Dreams & UFOs, broadcast May, 1981. A 1991 cassette (below) was offered at UFO Expo West in L.A., where Peter & Miriam also sold their alien head refrigerator magnets. Archive Bonus Tracks feature a commercial for Whitley’s Bed & Breakfast; a dream by Marc Myers; and Peter’s unusual experiences around a Stephane Grappelli concert, UFO Over Hollywood Bowl.dreams ufos

Enhanced Brain-Mix by Peter Stenshoel. Additional voices of Jerry Modjeski; Susan Murawski; Roger Colby; Craig Lang.

Listen to Post Void Visions: Dreams & UFOs Internet Archive logo

Movie: Little City in Space (1984)

LCS-2mins-StuDamon-corWhen the Post-Void Radio Theater was engaged by Czech filmmaker Miroslav Janek for his latest project, the result was a 1984 movie called Little City in Space.

In the scene pictured left, Post-Voiders Stuart and Damon Mathews are shown doing a broadcast.

Despite the title of the movie, it’s not about the Little City in Space show, instead it’s about the little radio station LCS originated from, 14-watt KFAI in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Interviews featured volunteer programmers such as blues legend Lazy Bill Lucas (pictured right)LCS-32mins-LazyBill

LCS radio’s alien newscaster Paul Bunny was filmed & discarded by the director, with other sequences. However, a Post Void creation survived the final cut: their commercial (introduced by Peter Stenshoel, left) LCS-40mins-PeterS-corfor Atomic Waste Bar and Grocery featuring Damon Mathews (below left, as announcer; and Charles Brin, right) seen at 40:00 when streaming or downloading the movie free at: http://dafilms.com/film/161-little-city-in-space/LCS-41mins-Damon-Charles1

Thanks Drew Miller and Robo for images.

Post-Voiders: Peter Stenshoel & Download Revue 2

Peter Stenshoel helped start the Post Void Radio Theater in 1977, the writing collective of the Little City in Space show. During his 1981-83 hiatus in Japan, he sent crafted tape compositions for LCS. Returning full time in 1983, he’s helped keep the show aloft to the present.img002 Peter is co-credited as originator of LCS’ conception as broadcasts coming from space for Earth. His inspiration derived from his heroes like Sun Ra and Philip K. Dick; the playful space-mythos of Gong. Peter’s role call up of agitated alien voice Paul Bunny is one of the most enduring regular features of LCS.

Here’s a commercial Peter created on LCS for Würsterkäsen Scenario Beer…listen & enjoy!

pictured: Peter Stenshoel, Damon Mathews 1984.Peter-Damon

LCS Download Revue #2 w/ guest Peter Stenshoel, featuring Little City In Space from October 27, 1984: The Most Three! News! Sports! Joblines! Paul Bunny! Dogmatix House of Excelsior! Eve Hallow! Jack Swekkmakk!Internet Archive logo New commercials for The Buyeria Mall and Hole Foods! Now hear this at archive.org

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